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The Black Brimmer was dark on Elm Street on Aug. 26 as it was undergoing renovations. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)

Black Brimmer nightclub to re-open with new name, look

MANCHESTER - The Black Brimmer is about to be reborn.

The popular Elm Street nightclub and live music venue has been closed for several weeks, but will reopen Friday with a completely new look and a new name - Blu.

Anyone visiting will see instead the new website for Blu, promoting the grand opening weekend.

'It's been a caterpillar and has been in a cocoon, and will unleash itself as a new butterfly, Blu,' said Peter Jennings, owner of Jokers Bar and Bistro on South Willow Street and a co-owner of Baked Downtown Cafe and Bakery on Elm Street.

Jennings said he was brought in as a consultant by the new owners of the Brimmer, who purchased the business a year ago. 'They didn't like the way it was running,' he said, 'so they closed it down and brought me in to clean it up.'

The changes include a new executive chef, new menu, new look and a new staff. 'Every employee that was here was released,' he said. 'We have a whole new crew, a whole new team.'

The house cleaning included the building as well. 'We've really cleaned it up from top to bottom,' he said, 'fresh paint, new carpeting, and hardwood flooring throughout. The old chandeliers are gone. We have a new lighting scheme and some very unique concepts inside.'

Longtime patrons who recall the elevated stages near the entrance will see those converted to VIP areas. The upper level will also have a VIP area, and an additional bar. 'In the past, the problem had been there was always just one bar in the back of the room, and it was hard to get to,' Jennings said.

The new owners are striving for big-city feel, he said, with retro black couches, stainless steel bars and private lounges. The second floor will be dubbed 'The Nest,' from which patrons can lean over the open railing and watch the action over the entire club.

'We've also changed over from a bouncer and security concept to more of a guest services person,' Jennings said. 'They'll be wearing black suits with blue shirts, and all of our servers are wearing black pants, black shirts and blue ties. We're trying to bring back the feel of what a dinner club should be like.'

Jennings and his staff have planned themes for each night. Tuesday will be industry night, with reduced prices and a special menu selection for anyone in the hospitality industry. Wednesday will be 'blu jazz night,' with a jazz and blues trio that will serve as house band. 'We're gearing that to more of a sophisticated audience, with wine parings for meals,' Jennings said.

Thursday will be college night, with a D.J.; and Friday will be ladies night, when Blu will be a dance club. Party Blu on Saturdays will take the club back to its roots, with live bands performing covers and originals. 'Most of the old bands that used to be part of the Brimmer are still coming back to work with us,' Jennings said. 'You still want to keep the ties that folks know. There's heritage here. It's just transforming.'

The urban feel will be complemented by some high-tech gadgetry, as every table will have a tablet device for perusing the menu, playing games or surfing the Web.

Parties buying liquor by the bottle will have access to VIP rooms in the upstairs portion of the nightclub, but patrons who want even more privacy will eventually have a members-only option. 'We are looking to transform the basement into more of a private keyholder society that will have a cigar smoking room, a non-smoking room and a lounge for folks who want to have more of a private experience,' Jennings said.

The new owners, whom Jennings declined to identify, are hoping to cater to the baby boomer generation earlier in the evening, and the younger set after 9. 'Nobody really caters to the aging community that wants to go out and not deal with some of the nightclub scene,' he said. 'We did that at Jokers, and it's worked very well.'

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